|System: PC*, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Telltale Games|
|Pub: Telltale Games|
|Release: May 13, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Without a word, the scene opens up. Clementine stands in front of a tree with a butterfly on it basked in the glow of the setting sun. You have all the time in the world to look around and appreciate the scenery and drink in the simple joy of existing in the moment. You have one action, “examine butterfly” and then, the episode begins.
The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 3 – In Harm’s Way is all about perspective. Heck, one of the characters flat out says so in a scene halfway through the game. The choices you make this time aren’t as hard as choices in previous episodes. Things are kind of black and white, and half the time all of the choices you make really end up at the same outcome anyway. No, this episode isn’t about seeing the consequences of your actions. This episode is about actually SEEING the consequences of your actions, up close and bloody personal.
By that I mean… well… in every game that you play there’s a bit of a disconnect between the player and the actions he takes. When Kratos splits an elephant man’s skull open and tears out his brain, you don’t really look at that as murder. It’s more like a puppet show with characters playing out a hilarious scene of wanton violence in front of you. The same holds true for games like Mortal Kombat. It’s hard to look at that game as actually violent and grotesque because of how over the top it is. The bloody bony bits that explode out of a corpse feel more like confetti than the parts of something that used to be alive, especially since that character will be back on his feet right after you hit the character select screen.
The Walking Dead had this disconnect as well. All throughout episode 1 and most of episode 2, the consequences of my choices felt, at best, the result of a branching tree. I chose what Lee and Clementine did, because those choices felt right to me. When I chose to kill someone I felt badass and when my choices let someone die I felt sad, but I never actually felt like someone died.
That is not the case in In Harm’s Way. Telltale decided to pull a Spec Ops: The Line with us this time around an shined a spotlight on the grim reality of what we are doing. Nothing feels “good” in this episode. Nothing feels like the “right” decision. Everything feels horrible… and that’s because in The Walking Dead, it is.
I am struggling to accurately describe this without giving you a small example… so SPOILER WARNING! For the love of all that is good, do not continue to read on if you don’t want plot details. Just skip past the italicized text as fast as you can.
All throughout the game, there is one man who makes your life horrible. He imprisons you, enslaves you, beats you up, kills people who are close to you, and throughout the game you just wait for the point in which you can take your revenge. Well, that point eventually comes. You get to exact your revenge on this monster. However, there is no repentance. There is no fear. There is no payback. There is just you, and a corpse of a man who once used to be alive. The camerawork zooms in to the man’s face, as it is beaten savagely. When you are done, there are no eyes left, no mouth, and no features. Just a bashed in bloody cavity with pieces of bones strewn about. There was no justice. There was no catharsis. There was just death. That was the reality of what you just did. You just killed someone.